Baseball Takes Two From Olivet on Saturday
Saturday, May 02, 2009
By Bruce Van Baren
Calvin coach John Sparks entered Saturday’s double-header against Olivet with his hands tied. The Knights depleted pitching staff was beginning a stretch of ten conference games in eight days.
The Knights faced second-place Olivet in a four-game series Friday and Saturday and will host a makeup double-header with first-place Adrian on Monday. Calvin also is scheduled to take on Albion in a four game series next weekend.
Pieter Steiner (Chicago, IL/Glenbrook South) and Keith Spoelstra (Oakland, NJ/Eastern Christian) delivered for the Knights with complete game performances. Calvin (18-16, 15-7 MIAA) swept a double-header from Olivet (19-16, 15-9 MIAA) at Calvin Field to take sole possession of second-place in the MIAA standings.
“We really did need today’s (sweep) and I’m really proud of the guys,” Sparks said. “To come back and get these two games is really big. I’m really pleased with the way we’re playing. We’re not playing perfectly, but we’re competing and playing hard.”
The Knights won their fourth conference series this season and remain in contention for the MIAA title. Sparks recognizes the steep task the defending conference champions have ahead of them.
“We don’t want to sugar coat anything,” Sparks said. “It is a long shot and there’s no doubt about that. But stranger things have happened.”
Calvin faces Adrian (26-8, 20-2 MIAA) in a double-header on Monday and Olivet will face Adrian in a four-game series next weekend. Calvin needs some help from Olivet even if it takes care of business on Monday. The Bulldogs need a pair of wins in their last six games against Calvin and Olivet to clinch the league title.
“We just have to worry about what we can control and let the rest ride out,” Sparks said.
Calvin held off Olivet in a 13-9 win in game one. Steiner posted five shutout innings and gave up nine runs, seven earned, on 11 hits while walking for and striking out one for his fourth win of the season.
The Knights rode Spoelstra to a 7-5 win in game two. Spoelstra gave up five runs, four earned, on nine hits while walking four and striking out eight. Spoelstra leads the Knights this season with 31 strikeouts.
“There’s no doubt that we’re a little bit depleted in our pitching staff,” Sparks said. “With these many games bunched into about a seven day period it makes it a challenge. We kind of knew we were going to stick with Steiner and Spoelstra as long as we possibly could today.”
In game one, Calvin batted around during a two-out rally in the second inning to jump out to a 6-0 lead. Olivet came back with two runs in the third inning and batted around in the fourth inning to score seven runs and take a 9-6 lead.
Calvin tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Scott Tipton (Stow, OH/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) smoked a two run double to center field with two outs to tie the game.
Nate Pocock (Wayland, MA/Wayland) gave Calvin the lead with a two-run double to right-center field that scored Matt Schepel (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian) and Tyler Berger (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian) in the fifth inning giving the Knights a 12-9 lead. Schepel walked home Tipton for an insurance run in the sixth inning.
In game two, Calvin jumped out to a four-run lead, scoring a pair of runs in the second and adding a run in the third and fourth. Calvin added insurance runs in the fifth and sixth to take a 7-3 lead. Olivet scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, but Spoelstra stranded the tying run at first base.
“Keith did a great job through first four or five innings and he started to tire a little bit at the end, but we needed him to keep going,” Sparks said. “He fought through a couple tough innings and made pitches when he needed to. Keith did a nice job for us today.”
Berger, Calvin’s leading hitter, had an outstanding afternoon. In game one, the freshman centerfielder went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and three runs scored. In game two, Berger went 2 for 2 with two RBIs and was also hit by a pitch twice.
“Berger has really come on as the season progressed,” Sparks said. “He puts in a lot of extra work on his own and it certainly shows. He’s come up big for us the last three weeks. I’m glad we’re going to have him for another three years.”
Pocock also had a big afternoon going 1 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored in game one and 2 for 4 with three runs scored in game two. Pocock also had the winning RBI double in the fifth inning of game one.
Calvin will host Adrian on Monday at 2 p.m. Game one was cut short last weekend due to rain. The game will be resumed as a 3-3 tie in the third inning. Game two of the double-header will begin thirty minutes after the conclusion of game one.